Self Improvement

What is a beast of burden?

When first opening the beasts of burden-app you will meet your ‘inner voice’ introducing your very own beast of burden (or bob among friends). A metaphorical beast draining your energy. The beast is a representation of specific behaviors that make it difficult for you to deal with pressures in life. Not dealing with pressure in a healthy way, can over time lead to stress that takes its toll on both mind and body. This is exactly what the app is designed to help prevent. The solution is to start taming bob. Like it is with any new pet, taming bob is going to take time and patience. But rest assured — your inner voice will guide you for a pleasant and entertaining experience. You might even have fun along the way. But let me formally introduce you to bob:

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The app is based on scientific research conducted by psychologist Derek Roger for more than 30 years of research into the effects of stress and the prevention of it.

Roger’s research into stress, together with his resilience training program by the Work Skill Centre, are the scientific cornerstones of bob.

Roger’s research shows that the triggers of stress are different at an individual level — one person might experience stress when having to move house or change jobs, while another just finds these life events exciting. This in itself is hardly surprising, but what follows is actually a game changing insight: that it is the specific behaviors and individual ways of reacting to external pressure that leads to stress. Rather than the external events themselves. This is why the first step in building resilience to stress is to “determine what kind of behaviors trigger stress in your life.”

The different beasts within the app each correspond to a type of behavior that in some way has a negative impact on the way we cope with pressures. So far, we have implemented three different beasts in the app: an avoidance beast, a control beast and a pleasing beast. Based on your choices in the app, it becomes clear what kind of behavior your beast represents.


Each beast builds upon the psychological theory of archetypes (inherent structures of the human psyche that are often unconscious). The beasts can be seen as a representation of the archetypes that affect our behavior in our daily lives and influence the way we behave and tackle pressure. No beast is all good or all bad, some behaviors boost our energy while other behavior drains us. If we want to change a behavior that takes energy, we first need to acknowledge its existence and effect on us — for example avoiding a specific type of difficult tasks, or wanting to please everyone at the same time.

According to this theory, you can never slay your beast, but you can tame it by acknowledging its existence and accepting it as a part of yourself.

If you are conscious of what habits and behaviors that may have a negative impact in your life, you can work towards changing these habits. This can be the first step towards reducing stress in your life.

This is also why the app adapts to your choices. It helps you identify what type of beast you have, in order to befriend it. “Taming your beast” is a helpful analogy — when you acknowledge your beast, you can begin to choose to change the behavior that it represents, and thereby reclaiming power. This means you’re actively making decisions instead of just following habits. On the other hand, if you don’t acknowledge your beast, you just give it room to grow bigger and stronger. You can only change a habit by acknowledging its existence and choosing to replace it with a healthier alternative.

Your bob is always going to be part of you in some way, but you can over time transform it through bite-sized activities from a huge, scary beast into a friendly house pet.

What kind of beast would you like to tame? Explore your own beast using our free beta here: